Academic Continuity Guide

During unplanned events or emergency closures, there are common issues that will affect on-campus classes if there is an inability to attend class, including diminished class time, limited internet access, and uncertain travel plans of students, professional staff and faculty. This guide provides options for faculty to teach and support students in times of disruption, and aims to complement administrative and departmental guidelines. 

Teaching and Technical Support for Faculty

Need help with teaching online? The Distance Learning Institute provides consultations for faculty who leverage online technologies and teaching techniques to create engaging course experiences. To schedule a consultation, contact Johnny Orr.

Creating alternative content and assignments? The LIFE team in conjunction with University Libraries will help faculty create alternative course materials and assignments. To schedule individual or request group consultations, contact the LIFE team at

Need technical support? In addition to the help desk, and instructional video series, the Learning Platforms Team can provide training and support for any of the technologies featured in this guide.

Overview of Modalities

The following section aims to demystify various terms used to describe the way educators can teach a course at the University of Miami and help academic planning for the upcoming Fall 2021 semester.

Click on each title to expand and review terms and descriptions.

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  • Primarily Face-To-Face Courses

    In-Person Only

    This is the traditional instructional method where course content and learning material are taught in person to a group of students allowing for live interaction between learner and instructor.  Most traditional University of Miami courses that did not use Blackboard for additional content and activities would be considered “In-Person Only” courses.  This mode is ideal when the course centers around physical actions such as performance, lab work, use of special equipment, and in-person simulated experiences.

    Example: an art studio course where all of the content and activities happen in the classroom.

    Experiential/Performance-Based Learning

    This is when students participate in performing highly focused tasks or activities that are meaningful and engaging. The purpose of this kind of learning is to help students acquire and apply knowledge, practice skills, and develop independent and collaborative work habits.

    Example: A nursing course like Health Assessment where students are acquiring and demonstrating skills they will need for their career.


    Blended learning refers to face-to-face learning that is supplemented through the use of online tools, activities, and resources. Additional resources like videos, articles, podcasts, and more are meant to enhance in-person classes and create an enriched learning experience.  Most traditional University of Miami courses that use Blackboard for additional content and activities would be considered blended courses.  This mode is a good fit for a broad range of courses where students may benefit from additional course materials, practice, or extended discussions.

    Example: A physics course taught on campus where students have access to supplemental online videos.

  • Mixed Instructional Modes

    Flipped Learning

    Flipped learning is a good method for large informational content type courses. Courses designed so the course content is recorded ahead of time and assigned as homework. This allows for more interactive forms of learning to take place during the face to face portion of the class.  For the University of Miami, this could provide an experience where course content is available to on-campus and online students in the same course.  Then faculty can meet once per week with the on-campus students for live activities (group work, practice, discussion, etc.) and once per week with remote students for their live activities.  This would be an improvement over the current hybrid model since faculty would not need to split their attention between on-campus and remote students. 

    Example: A philosophy course where all students watch a pre-recorded lecture early in the week.  Then on-campus students meet with faculty on Tuesdays to discuss the video along with course readings.  On Thursday, the online students have the same discussion in a fully remote mode. The key is that the learners really must do their part reviewing and learning the material prior to the face to face portion of the class so they are ready to participate. The instructor must make the expectations for the class clear, or the face to face portion will not be as engaging and meaningful as it should be.


    In the Fall 2020, the University offered many courses with a combination of some students in the classroom and others participating online.  This permitted remote students to continue participating if they were taking the whole course from a remote location.  The remote and in-class students were connected through a video conferencing tool, such as Zoom.  While this format provides the most inclusion for students, regardless of their location, there are challenges with creating a seamless educational experience that balances the needs of classroom and remote students. 

    Example: A math course where a group of students are rotating through on-campus and online participation while other students are remote for the entire semester.

  • Primarily Online Formats

    Emergency Remote Instruction

    In the Spring of 2020, the University of Miami shifted to emergency remote instruction via videoconferencing tools.  This is synchronous instruction that occurs outside of a physical classroom. Instructors are physically separated from their learners and the campus environment. This mode is quick to implement, but it is limited in effectiveness for courses that depend on synchronous performance, the use of equipment or specimens (e.g. science labs, special collections), on-site research, and clinical work.  This mode is effective for a short time, but is not sustainable. 

    Example: Due to a hurricane, an art history course is moved online for a few weeks.  During this time, the faculty member uses Zoom to continue with her presentations and discussions following her normal syllabus. Once the emergency is over, her course resumes in the classroom.

    Fully Online

    Fully online courses differ from emergency remote instruction in that they are planned ahead of time.  The presentation or teaching of course through a computer learning management system such as Blackboard. Learning takes place through the explicit use of technology for content and activities in addition to the application of instructional design principles that reflect the science of teaching and learning. 

    Example: An accounting course with pre-recorded content videos, live office hours, asynchronous discussion activities, and team-based projects.

Preparing to Teach in a New Mode

We have attempted to answer some of the important questions that may arise as you attempt to implement a new modality, through the following guides, quick tips and recorded workshops.

Click on each title to expand and review the collated information.

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  • Guides about In-Person, Hybrid, Flipped, and Online Learning

    Preparing to Teach a Fall 2021 Course

    This Fall 2021, the University of Miami is transitioning to in-person and on-campus classes and will continue to maintain several COVID-19 safety guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy campus environment. During the last academic year, faculty introduced creative, and innovative strategies to adapt to the complexities of online, and hybrid teaching, focused on supporting student learning. This guide therefore builds upon existing strategies from last year, and options for remote students, to ensure a smooth teaching and learning experience this semester. View the guide.

    Teaching in the General Purpose Classrooms

    Many UM classrooms have been outfitted with necessary equipment for faculty to record in-classroom lectures and support hybrid teaching, including freestanding webcams that connect with the room’s computer or your own laptop. The Office of Classroom Management has shared two important resources for faculty teaching within the General Purpose Classrooms. 

    Preparing to Teach a Flipped Course

    Our objective with this guide is to provide guidance about how you might leverage flipped learning and its underlying principles to teach effectively in socially-distanced classrooms. We have attempted to answer some of the important questions that may arise as you attempt to implement flipped learning in this unique context. View the guide.

    Preparing to Teach a Hybrid Course

    To help prepare faculty members for the upcoming semester, we have prepared a teaching guide with useful guidance regarding logistial, technical, and pedagogical considerations. Written in an easy-to-follow question-and-answer format, this guide is a good starting point for faculty members seeking assistance for teaching in a hybrid format. View the guide.

    Online Course Delivery Checklist –The Three Ps of Preparation

    This guide outlines a checklist for preparing and delivering an online course. View the guide.

    Faculty Guide to Major Course Assessments

    An assessment strategy that accurately determines the extent to which students have obtained the knowledge and skills we want them to acquire is a critical part of any course design. The goal of this guide is to provide guidance on approaches to traditional assessments, alternative assessments, and academic integrity. View the guide.

    Instructional Design Tips and Considerations

    This two-page guide provides a brief overview of course design decisions you may need to make when preparing a course. View the guide.

  • On-Demand Video Sessions

    The following live training sessions were conducted by the Learning Platforms and Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement team during the Spring - Summer 2020 semester. These sessions covered how to use various technology platforms, in addition to highlighting foundational and intermediate techniques for online teaching. Access the recordings below.

    Introduction to Online Teaching

    This introductory session providea an overview of the basics of online teaching, including online course design strategies, syllabus considerations, basic Blackboard functionality and introducing learners to the online learning environment. View the session recording. View the session recording (login with UMID).

    Fostering Community and Engagement in Online Courses

    This session covers grounded strategies to create online learning environments that promote community and engagement, including communicating with students (learner-centered communication, managing virtual office hours), fostering community among students (creating meaningful discussion board activities, managing group course work and peer-feedback, approaches to providing feedback, and supporting instructor presence with media (videoconferencing, pre-recorded lectures, drawing-based instruction). View the session recording (login with UMID).

    Resources for Teaching and Learning Online

    This session introduces participants to the various University of Miami resources to support teaching and learning online, including support provided by the Richter Library and Camner Center, accommodations for students with disabilities, and open educational resources (OERs). View the session recording (login with UMID).

    Advanced Blackboard Tools for Teaching and Learning

    This session covers strategies for using advanced Blackboard tools, including assessing student learning with Tests, Surveys, and Pools; using the Discussion Board for meaningful and effective classroom discussion; promoting student reflection and collaboration with Blogs, Wikis, and Journals; and providing feedback to students with the Grade Center. View the session recording (login with UMID).

    Blackboard 101

    This session will focus on rapidly becoming familiar with the basic features of Blackboard Learn, including course availability, navigating the site, uploading content, previewing as a student and adding TAs or co-instructors to a course. View the session recording.

    Blackboard + Zoom

    This session focused on learning how to integrate Zoom into your Blackboard course and host live conferencing sessions. Topics included creating a Zoom link within your course, scheduling a meeting and editing meeting settings, inviting and managing meetings with your students using the Zoom tools. View the session recording.

    Blackboard Assignments and Assessments

    This session will focus on learning how to create, deploy and grade different types of assessments (assignment and tests) through Blackboard Learn. View this session recording.

    Respondus Lockdown / Monitor

    This session will focus on learning how to set up Respondus Monitor and LockDown Browser to proctor remote exams. View this session recording.

  • University of Miami Resources

    Office of Disability Services: Accommodating Students in Online Courses

    Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the University must make reasonable attempts to ensure online/remote/distance learning courses are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Office of Disability Services has issued guidance to University of Miami faculty members regarding the accommodation request process, the types of accommodations, and engaging in communicating with students regarding their accommodations.

    University of Miami Libraries

    In addition to online access to the library catalog, databases, and research guides, UM libraries also provides “Ask a librarian” chat service for reference and research questions, and phone or email consultations with subject librarians. View the Online Teaching Library Resources Research Guide.

    Learning Platforms Team YouTube Channel

    The Learning Platforms Team maintains and updates their YouTube channel with relevant resources connected to Blackboard Learn and other learning tools.

    Teaching Online Workshop

    Enroll and engage with resources in the Distance Learning Institute's Teaching Online Workshop. To request access to this workshop, submit your information here.

    Resources for Culture, Belonging, and Well-Being

    The Office of Institutional Culture has curated a set of resources, research and articles on two topics - 'Belonging in Virtual Classrooms' and 'Well-Being During COVD-19'. In particular, these resources cover topics such as being inclusive in Zoom teaching, ensuring accessibility of online courses, and supporting struggling students online.

    Quick Access Links

  • CDC Guidelines for Higher Education

    View the latest updates from The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about considerations for higher education institutions. This site includes guiding principles for online, hybrid, face-to-face teaching approaches, suggested modified classroom layouts, and promoting behaviors that will reduce the spread.